John Frost

John Frost was one of the pioneers of the California Impressionist movement. He lived in Europe as a child and studied with the French Impressionists. Due to ill health, he moved to California as a young man, where he employed the en plein air technique to the variety of landscapes he found there.


This major painting, executed in pure impressionist style, depicts Walensee, one of the largest lakes in Switzerland. Frost completed it in the mid 1920s for the Doheny Family Mansion, now referred to as the Greystone Mansion, in Beverly Hills. It was the centerpiece of the eight-panel mural that hung in the card room; Lucy Doheny was an avid bridge player. The vibrantly colored panels feature spectacular, intricate details; from the clouds tickling the snow-capped mountains to the sunlight playing across the lake.

Frost was intimately familiar with these scenes because he spent two years in the sanitarium Davos Platz in Switzerland being treated for tuberculosis. Walensee also inspired a romantic solo piano work by the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. The painting appears in an artist monograph published by The Irvine Museum, and an issue of Architectural Digest from the 1920s shows the painting while it was hanging in Greystone Mansion.